Gardens also put an indelible stamp on my heart from the books I read. First and foremost among them was The Secret Garden. Then there were the gardens from Daphne Du Maurier's novels. If you have read Rebecca, you will forever remember the gardens of Manderly, and especially the 'Happy Valley' where rhododendrons and azaleas are pleasantly fragrant even in the rain, in colors of “salmon, white, and gold.” Again in My Cousin Rachel by Maurier, you would witness two different types of gardens. The Italian one in Rachel's Villa Sangalletti in Florence, and the English one in Cornwall (Remember the 'sunken garden'?) I am still enamoured by both of these 'literary' gardens.
We went to the counter, and paid for them. I was a bit hesitant about our purchase at first; I thought the mugs were rather expensive. But I knew that these were handmade and unique, and thus we were paying for the craft and their uniqueness. When the woman at the counter handed the cups/mugs to me, she put them in a paper bag that was fashioned out of a newspaper. The font looked very familiar. This looks like Hindi, I said to my husband.
A lone donkey grazed in a large filled full of yellow irises and other flowers that appeared like buttercups. You could see the backdrop of a mountain, and trees in the horizon. The donkey did not seem like he was in haste. He looked like he was at peace. Neck bent, head down in haze of green and yellow, he seemed far removed from the miseries of the world, and the unfairness, death and grief that rocked the world in the past year and more.
I was torn apart – how does one travel or partake of any enjoyment when so many that we knew had lost their lives? Then there was also the fact that ever since the pandemic started, peace had ghosted me, much like an unfaithful and flippant boyfriend. In these circumstances, should we be taking this trip to Sligo County at all?
So much of our imagination and desires are rooted in the past - things that we have read about, seen or heard. I have always wondered, ever since I read Thumbelina as a child, what would it be like to sit atop a lily leaf and to float down the water e in a delightful little way?
As children and adults, we are often lured by ‘secrets’ – this promise of getting to know something that was hitherto unknown, or hidden. Of course, in the travel and hospitality industry, this word is often abused – ‘secret hideaways’, ‘secret getaways’ and the like. I have an inherent distrust of such deals or phrases, and sometimes they can also speak of privilege and exclusivity – as if some people are privileged enough to be able to gain access to these deals more than the others. Why were we then, on the trail of Donegal’s secret waterfall?
There are wooded walks leading to the waterfall. And all along the trail, you will hear it. This excited, boisterous, noisy child or a teen if you will is loud! It seems so eager to have a conversation with you; at some point, you want to say - Sush! Let me also get a word in, please!
Like many Georgian homes of the era, the Belvedere Estate has a walled garden, many walks and landscaped grounds. However, three things stood out for me. One was the story. And by god, what a story. It was as if, it came straight from Edgar Allan Poe's short story collection. There is a wall called the 'Jealous Wall' and this leads us to our story number one. A most haunting, a most unsettling story.
We are now under a strict lockdown but I can still remember two things from the small break we undertook between the lockdowns. One is the laughter and joie de vivre of the host of the bed and breakfast where we stayed at, and the other is the sea - the vast swatches of the scintillating brilliant blue that seemed to flutter like a school-girl's ribbon, sometimes to our left, and sometimes to our right - as we wound up and down the Connemara region.
There was still time for the sun to emerge out of his slumber but the clues were there. It looked like the sun was out of his duvet, and just freshening up, his golden mane visible under the clouds. When he finally emerged, it was like fireworks in the sky - colours and sparks splattered across the vast expanse, his power and rage and light eclipsing everything else. Everyone stood still and watched, mobile cameras in hand.